contemporary art / history of art

Fiume: A promenade at the river

Fiume1Entering the exhibition “Fiume” (River) there are black and white photos at first sight. They are showing a river bank. Sometimes there is a young woman at the shore, wrapped in a white woollen lace shawl. She is alone with the nature.


Fiume15Besides there are, in a row of three, smaller coloured diapositives, projected on the wall. They display, once again, the river shore. Continuing, there is a hand-drawn plan on the wall. At first glance, it is only an ascending and after a summit sloping line. Besides there are place names indicated: it is a map, showing the waterway of the river Reno from Bologna through Castel Maggiore and Bentivoglio to Santa Maria Codifiume. Looking back to the black and white photos, one can remark the GPS coordinates under the pictures. We are accompanying the young woman on her promenade along the river course.

Fiume14Another projection shows a plain landscape with some trees at the horizon. The camera is wandering slowly from right to left and back. Now, one can notice as well the soft noise, it sounds like wind or soft flowing water. With that, one might completely immerse in the landscape: a solitary walk at the shore of the Reno.

Fiume16But the next station brings us back into reality: there are four newspaper pages of the local journal “Il Resto del Carlino”. Since they are dating from 1972, they carry us on a time journey back into the past. In between other articles about local events, there are some, talking about a missing young woman in Bologna and the finding of a feminine body in the Reno at Santa Maria Codifiume. It is Elsa Mengoli, the grandmother of the artist Valentina D’Accardi, author of the exhibited oeuvres. This is disturbing.



Valentina betook a journey into her family history. She followed the way of her grandmothers’ body from Bologna to her birthplace, where it was found several days after her disappearance. The artist documented the undertaking by photos of the landscape and self-portraits. On the photos the artist is wearing the white woollen lance shawl of her ancestress.

Fiume6Elsa Mengoli left behind her three children aged 8, 10 and 12 years. Valentina made drawings of them, inspired by their infancy photos in different ages. But the children are isolated from all circumstances. The artist arranged their busts at the lower edge of the paper, sometimes placed in the middle, more often in the left or right half of the picture. Even if the expression on their faces is not necessarily stern or sad, they appear somehow lost on the large paper. 30 of these drawings are presented in the exhibition.

Fiume10On the opposite wall there are some more black and white photos of the river side with or without Valentina. So that there are all in all 15 of these pictures on view. Perhaps, the approach might be changed with the knowledge of the background, it could be more melancholic. Nevertheless, the sound and with it the atmosphere of the exhibition might carry one back to a solitary promenade at a river side. The installation of a huge white branch, which looks a little bit like driftwood, underlines that sentiment. From its surroundings comes as well the sound.

Besides the expression of silence, the photos and the video are aesthetic compositions of nature, surrounded by a story and its arrangement. Moreover, each photo is unique, since the artist develops them by hand and does not intervene, when smaller irregularities appear.

Fiume13In addition, for Valentina and the exhibition curator Maura Pozzati the project was a development. Partly it was shown for the first time at the SetUp Contemporary Art Fair in Bologna 2016 by the association ABC Arte Bologna Cultura. Here it was granted by the Premio 2016 for the best artist under 35. Afterwards they completed the photos and drawings with the video and sound installation. That is absolutely new in the artists’ oeuvre, who worked, until now, only in the two dimensions of motionless images. So “Fiume” was not only a journey into the past, but might lead into new artistic practice.



Valentina D’Accardi: FIUME

19 March – 16 April 2016

ABC Arte Bologna Cultura
Via Alessandrini 11, Bologna

Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday, 17h30 – 19h30
Closed for Easter the 25 and 26 March